As I’ve previously stated, I do not believe now is the right time to be redeveloping the Cultural Centre in Cowes.
After reviewing the draft concept designs, I am even more certain of this.
There is no designated space for the Arts and Crafts Gallery, only a Community Enterprise Centre which may ‘showcase’ the Arts and Crafts Gallery. There is no room for the library to expand.
The plans need to be redrawn, which means at least a couple of extra months’ delay.
The logical choice would be to postpone the redevelopment until we have the money and the right plan.
However, there is still a slight issue of a big empty hole in the middle of Cowes now. We need some new concepts on how to use the space in the meantime to make sure it remains a community asset.
I’ve got an idea.
With the restrictions currently in place and the inability to have outdoor seating, patronising our local cafes and restaurants has become difficult. If you want to have something to eat while you’re out, you must either eat standing in the street or wait to get home to eat.
I propose that we use the land that has been cleared with the demolition of the Cultural Centre to erect temporary, socially-distanced seating so that our community will have a spot to sit and finish their meal before continuing their day.
First, we make sure the land is clear and flat and lay down some gravel or instant lawn. Then, we can set up tables and chairs for couples, a few for families of four and maybe a couple for families of six.
All these tables would be set 1.5 metres apart, or more, possibly with some shaded-off areas. Council can employ a couple of people who have lost their employment due to COVID-19 to sanitise and clean every table once people have left, ensuring that the public areas stay safe. This designated public eating area could also have signage pointing out our cafes and local businesses to make it easier for visiting tourists to find what they’re looking for.
Once we have the correct budget, and more importantly, the correct plan, we can remove the temporary seating – perhaps moving it somewhere else – and build a Cultural and Community Centre that we can actually be proud of.
Mikhaela Barlow, candidate for Island Ward.
Authorised by Mikhaela Barlow, 57 Tampa Road, Cape Woolamai, 3925.